Ecuador
Provincia de Loja

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  • Day258

    Loja, Ecuador

    February 8 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Ich verlasse die Atacama Wüste von Peru und fahre nach Ecuador. Die Landschaft ändert sich Schlagartig, es wird grün und vor allem auch sauber. Nach dem vielen Müll in Peru an der Strasse ist es hier eine Wohltat.
    Aus 2500 - 3500m fahre ich nach Loja, eine Berglandschaft die wunder schön ist !
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  • Day43

    Reiseeskapaden & Relaxation

    December 3, 2019 in Ecuador ⋅ ☁️ 20 °C

    Unser letzter Stop in Ecuador war ein Yoga Hostel in der Nähe von Vilcabamba, im Tal der Hundertjährigen. Hundertjährige Eier gab's hier zum Glück nicht, dafür Paul im herabschauenden Hund und Annka auf der Affenschaukel.

    Ausgestattet mit Seelenfrieden und viel Flexibilität in verkürzten Muskelgruppen haben wir unseren Weg Richtung Peru angetreten. Das war auch hinlänglich nötig, da wir aufgrund der Bussituation im Busterminal nächtigen durften.

    Früher oder später sind wir dann in Máncora angekommen, ein netter Strandort im Norden Perus. Hier gibt's jedenfalls viel rohen Fisch, dessen Eiweiß durch eine Limettensaft-Marinade denaturiert wird, sodass es als Gericht namens Ceviche genießbar, oder für Paul aushaltbar, wird.
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  • Day76

    Izhcayluma Hostal in Vilcabamba

    March 19 in Ecuador ⋅ 🌧 64 °F

    Monday March 16, 2020

    We arrived at Izhcayluma (pr. ISH kai LOOM a) in Vilcabamba at about 6 pm after a 5 hour journey from Cuenca.  There were 11 passengers in their shuttle van, all foreigners, and we had an Ecuadorian driver. He wore latex gloves and a mask. We were all given alcohol sprays on our hands after we loaded our luggage and were seated.  An older gentleman in the front seat was coughing a lot and wiping his nose a lot with kleenex. I wasn’t the only one that noticed. Deanne gave me the only face mask we had. She found it buried in her stuff. I bought a package of these in Hong Kong 5 years ago because the exhaust was so bad and I had a bad cough from that. This was during the Ebola scare of 2015. Since I have asthma, I’m at an increased risk to have complications if I get Covid-19, so Deanne was being very thoughtful, even if there is conflicting info on the use and effectiveness of the face masks.

    At a bathroom break a group of us huddled and talked about that guy’s coughing. An Irishman named Colin said he had extra masks and I asked the coughing guy if he’d wear it. He said he had altitude sickness, not the flu or Corona Virus, but he wore it anyway.  A young couple next to me had just come through Guayaquil, along with Colin. That’s the hotspot here in Ecuador. Later, we started worrying about them, and whether they passed it on to everyone in the van.

    I had been in communication with Raik, one of the owners, via email and was thinking about canceling.  He gave me the truth and told me that our scheduled shuttle was the last one here because of a ban on all vehicles nationwide the next morning at 5 am.  Monday morning, we were torn. It was getting serious and we had to decide where to be hunkered down for up to several months. We spent a half hour looking into car rentals when we heard the buses were cancelled nationwide, along with taxis and shuttles. Then another announcement came out that no cars would be allowed to travel on the roads!  That did it, and we decided to stick with going here to Hostal Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba. It turned out that the ban was on alternating days, depending on your license plate, but we didn’t want a car and didn’t want to pay a lot while a car just sat in a driveway.

    Raik told me he had a few cancellatations, and I had asked for an upgrade to a private cabin because of that. We had a smaller room reserved.  We were given a great cabin for no extra charge. So, our first order of business was to order dinner at their amazing restaurant. They said there would be a meeting in the bar at 7 and about 30 foreigners huddled around for the updates. 

    Peter, the other German owner looked exhausted. He has been running around making accommodations for everyone and also meeting with the local police and health authorities. He gave us updates and assured us we wouldn’t be kicked out and that there was plenty of food.

    We were asked to not go into town for 3 days because the locals are getting wary of foreigners. Peter said he’s lived there for 22 years and he’s starting to get the “Gringo Eye” in town.  Everyone is OK with that. There are people from all over the world including several from the US, (and in an amazing coincidence a couple from Madison named Tim and Denise Gomez), an Estonian woman and her 2 year old, a German or 2, a New Zealander, an Aussie,, a few from England, and who knows where else. During the first group meeting, 2 naked two year olds ran around while Peter told us we could be here awhile. He started by quarantining those who had passed through Guayaquil, on police orders. The police happened to stop by during our meeting in the bar and about shit bricks. After that, they quarantined all of us for 14 days and had the health department visit to give recommendations. Those that passed through Guayaquil are stuck in their rooms and food is delivered, but the rest of us can go anywhere on the huge property.

    Each day the numbers of infected increase in Ecuador, like everywhere else. The bulk are in Guayas province, where Guayaquil is the biggest city.  We meet twice today for meetings in the restaurant in the morning and at the bar in the evening for updates and I wondered why we’re all meeting in the same room.  They are collecting cell numbers for What’s App texting, but haven’t used it yet. I downloaded the app begrudgingly since Facebook owns it and now they have all my contacts.  It’s a slight sacrifice, but I cringed while accepting those terms of service. But within 2 days, the meetings tapered off and we’re getting texts with info now.

    Peter and Raik are soooo kind. They are not charging the usual $4 for breakfast for anyone for some reason.  They have nearly emptied the dorms and upgraded as many people as they can to private rooms. They are not charging for yoga in the pm like normal. And they literally upgraded us twice to a much better room than even our first upgrade. We have a huge private cabin with 2 queen beds, a large, private patio with furniture and a hammock, and great wifi.  There’s a pool, a bar, a ping pong table, an amazing restaurant, amazing people, free yoga (they used to charge for the pm session but they are waiving it.) I haven't gone yet, but will probably start if the groups are small. Man, these guys are really amazing and kind. They are not at all worried about profit and just want to make sure we’re all taken care of. There is no place on earth we’d rather be right now. Just 3 days ago, I planned on buying all the rice and beans I could. Now it seems we will not be short of food or supplies. This could change, but they assure us we live in a breadbasket and the government is ensuring that food continues to flow and there are strict new laws banning price gouging. It’s nothing like what we are seeing in the media in the states. There’s no hoarding and no fighting in stores.

    Each day, the Ecuadorian government responds to the numbers and tightens up restrictions as the cases go up. I’m in full agreement. Here’s a rundown, more or less. This may be kinda boring, so skip over it if you want. But I am seriously impressed and can’t believe the US isn’t doing more at this point. It’s much easier to do this kind of thing in a smaller country and sometimes I feel like the US is 50 countries. It’s times like this that our demand for independence is a hindrance. (Damn, I’m old. I never would have thought that when I was younger, but I’ve seen too much in 63 countries).  Anyhoo, here are quick notes I jotted down. I’m reading the largest papers in Cuenca, Guayaquil, and Quito each day to get my info. (El Comercio, El Universo, and El Mercurio). Google automatically translates them, which is super convenient because my Spanish didn’t increase that much in 9 days of classes.

    Nationwide Public Schools close on about March 11 or 12.

    No gatherings of over 500, concerts cancelled March 11

    No gatherings of over 250 March 12, museums and public spaces close.

    Public and National Parks close March 14

    No gatherings of 100 (March 14)

    March 15 - All borders closed! This was a big one and not even EU countries or the US did this. Ecuador did this before neighboring countries, Panama, and most other SA countries. This includes flights, buses, and land crossings. Nobody is getting in now. Flights out will continue.

    No public bus travel as of March 15. We came to Vilcabamba on the last shuttle and our hostel, Izhcayluma is closed to the public now and nobody else can check in. There are about 30 of us, including many in a dorm.

    Since Guyaquil is the epicenter here, on March 17, they don’t allow anyone in or out of the province of Guayas!

    Peter and Raik are moving people from the dorms to private cabins that are now available since a few people left.  We were bumped into an even better, larger cabin with 2 queen beds and private balcony.

    The Dutch couple that passed through Guayaquil and changed buses at the Terminal Terrestre are put in voluntary quarantine here by the police on March 17. So was Colin, the Irishman, who also transferred via Guayquil. We also passed through Quayaquil from the Galapagos, but it was 2 weeks earlier and we’re not being isolated.

    March 16 - People can only drive every other day, depending on the last digit of the license plate. Exceptions are made for deliveries of food, medicine, EMTs, police, etc.

    Fines are implemented for price gouging in stores.

    March 16 there is a nationwide curfew from 9 pm to 5 am. Our staff here need to leave by 8:30, so dinner schedules are being changed.

    On March 17, the first person is convicted of driving on the wrong day. He’s sentenced to 4 months in prison. The possible fines are $6,000 and/or 1-3 years in prison!  Can you imagine that happening in the US, let alone so fast? $6K is about ⅓ the average annual income here. The man pleaded guilty so he only got 4 months. 

    March 17 - nobody over 65 in Quito can go out of their houses!  Wow.

    As of March 18, there are 3 deaths and 168 contaminated, with about 500 more in mandatory quarantine.

    March 18-  none of the staff or guests at Izhcayluma are showing any symptoms. They have been taking amazing precautions here: multiple cleanings of handles, no house cleaning, we clean our own dishes quickly in a tub first before staff touches them, no more than 2 at a dinner table, we take pictures of the menus instead of touching them, and also they ripped out pages and taped them to a table. No more sharing a pen to sign for our food/drinks. Here, we will pay one large bill when we leave instead of dealing with money at each transaction. We’re not being the best at isolation since this type of guest is pretty open and sharing. The bar is still open too!  I played pool with fellow Madisonian Tim last night but wouldn’t share my cue and first wiped it down with alcohol (the rubbing kind, c’mon, gimme a break), along with the table.

    Wednesday March 18, 2020

    A woman at the hostal left to get a private apt. In town. She thought she’d be better off alone and with her own kitchen. Two days later she asked to come back and was refused. We’re so happy we didn’t pass back through Guayaquil to go to Salinas or Playas, big beach towns near Quayaquil. We’d have been stuck in a soulless place and probably quarantined longer. And we’d be using a shared elevator in a big highrise rental condo most likely.

    Thursday March 19, 2020

    199 cases in Ecuador, 3 deaths. But 157, or 79% are in Guayas Province.  None in Loja province, where we are.

    The mayor of Guayaquil is confirmed to have Covid-19. Just before she announced this, she illegally prevented a plane from landing in Guayaquil. An empty Iberian airlines plane that was to evacuate foreigners out of Guayaquil was blocked from landing when the mayor ordered vehicles to block the runway. The plane was diverted to Quito and landed safely and took on 170 evacuees there instead.

    As of yesterday, the curfew in Guayas province was changed to 4 pm to 5 am.

    I feel guilty for being in such a nice place while so many people are hurting. But we feel like we were pulled here. Deanne found a pamphlet for this place at our Spanish School and we booked the reservation a few days later. They don’t use credit cards here and we could easily have cancelled our reservation with no recourse.  Each time we talked about going somewhere else (a beach in Guayas province!), we kept deciding to come here. When I was ready to book a car to drive to the beach (through Guayaquil), moments later I read a newspaper that said all transport would be banned. Fuck it. We are destined to go to Vilcabamba I guess.

    All photos and vids are here. https://photos.app.goo.gl/HdLcFFsi4FbkLsnb7
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  • Day82

    Covid-19 Quarantine - Week 2

    March 25 in Ecuador ⋅ ☀️ 75 °F

    This post may be a tad dry, but it's my daily notes on what's going on here at Izhcayluma Hostal in Vilcabamba while we are quarantined during the Covid-19 crisis. I figure I'll enjoy reading this years from now. We are safe and consider ourselves VERY lucky, especially since we were considering hunkering down in Guayas province, where 80% of the Ecuadorian cases are.

    All photos and vids are here. https://photos.app.goo.gl/HdLcFFsi4FbkLsnb7

    Friday March 20

    43 Spanish nurses and doctors are trapped in Guayaquil since the mayor blocked their plane out.

    260 infected and 4 dead in Ecuador as of last night.

    Loja province, ours, has 4 cases.

    It’s our 4th day here and nobody has any symptoms. I’m taking my temperature daily just to have a baseline.

    It’s 1:40 pm and I just found the Ecuadorian Health Dept. website with up to date stats at El Ministerio de Salud Pública del Ecuador (MSP) informa: Situación coronavirus 24-03-2020  Now there are 367 cases and 5 dead. 74% are in Guayas province.

    Saturday March 21

    426 infected, 7 dead

    Hostel is moving to 2 meals a day since the curfew in town is shortened to 7 pm to 5 am. That means they need to leave by 6:30. But the bar will be open since the bartender will be sleeping on the property. Whew!

    After 10 am today, the totals are 506 and 7 deaths.

    Sunday March 21

    Totals are 532 and 7 as of 5:00 yesterday. They are posting updated stats at 10 am and about 5 pm each day. Guayas still has 75% of the cases.

    Some Dutch and Americans are planning on leaving soon. They need to coordinate getting to Quito and then booking a charter flight with their embassy. We have ZERO intention of leaving.

    After 5 days here for us, nobody here has any symptoms.

    There have been roadblocks put up by some villages/towns. They were literally putting logs in the road to prevent traffic. The military was called out to remove those and they and local police are manning the roadblocks.  As of yesterday pm, the roads are all under government control. You need a pass to get through. Peter had a pass to drive the 35 minutes to Loja and went through 3 roadblocks and it took over an hour to get there. At least one cop had to call the chief of police of Vilcabamba to verify.

    The Ecuadorian Health Secretary just resigned. So did the Labor Secretary. No word on why, but I assume the stress got to the Health Secretary.

    New stats as of 1 pm: 789 and 14 deaths. Not flattening the curve yet, not by a longshot.

    An article in a Guayaqil paper (El Universo) said that in one barrio of Guayaquil, it was like a normal Saturday there, with people out and about, no masks or gloves, shops all open and lots of people walking and talking together. “That’s very Guayaquil” said Peter. The rest of the country seems to be taking it more seriously.

    Monday March 23

    789 and 14 in am

    An american who lives in Cuenca tried to leave to go home. He coordinated papers with a lawyer in Cuenca and hired a driver from there to pick him up. He couldn’t get through Loja yesterday and had to come back, even with legal papers to get him through.

    Several people have booked flights to home (Europe) but they have to figure out how to get to Cuenca.  Most are afraid of going through Quayaquil.

    Curfew in Guayaquil is 4 pm to 5 am, in the rest of the country, it’s 7 pm to 5 am.

    As of 10:30, the new numbers are 981 and 18.

    Tuesday March 24

    1,049 and 27 is the latest number. I don’t think they posted any data on Sunday, so this may be a 2 day jump in numbers.

    President Morena just announced a nationwide curfew of 2 pm to 5 am, starting tomorrow! Ouch. Our staff here that cook for us will have to leave by 1pm so we may have to cook for ourselves now. I’m sure Peter will call a meeting soon to discuss.

    We had an 11:30 am meeting today. Three people made it to Quito for a flight out to Europe.  Also, the German embassy is coordinating evacuating EU citizens on several flights from Quito to Frankfurt.  Alas, Brits are not eligible now. No real word from the US embassy for Tim and Denise, who are dying to get back to Madison.

    Peter said to expect to stay here for a couple months if you don’t get out now.

    We paid our first weekly bill. All food, drinks, lodging, and yoga was $610/week for both of us. That’s about $87/day. We consider it a huge bargain because we’ve had several drinks in the bar and the occasional bottle of wine with dinner. Peter is not charging for yoga or breakfast even though there’s no reason not too. Peter and Raik are so good to us.

    Not sure how dinner is going to work now. There is PLENTY of food here and in the markets; no run on anything in the country. However, staff need to be home by curfew. The fines for being out after curfew are huge, like one month’s wage for a 2nd offense. Recidivists face jail time.

    I took my first yoga class today at 7 am with Deanne. It wasn’t as hard as I thought.  It was a good hour of stretching and I enjoyed it. They offer yoga twice a day but I’ll try to stick to the am session for now.

    I’ve been doing laps at the pool and pushups and situps. What else am I going to do?

    On that note, I’ve been reading a LOT of novels since we are no longer traveling.  One of our two e-readers broke though. It was a little wonky after I left it in the rain at Yellowstone last year. After Deanne left it in the hot sun for a couple hours here, it was DOA.  We’ll share our one good ereader and Deanne has also found a small library here with real books.

    Thank god I bought a new Chromebook when in New Orleans. It’s super fast and we have several movies/TV shows we can watch. Even though there’s a big TV in the bar with Satellite TV, I don’t feel like hanging out with a group of people each night.

    It’s been 8+ days with the same people and no symptoms with anyone!

    Colin, the Irishman, and an American woman are still in isolation here since they passed through Guayaquil last week. 7 more days to go for them.

    Wednesday March 25

    1562 and 28 deaths as of 10:30

    Peter held a meeting last night and said he got permission from the police to get an exemption from the 2 pm curfew for his cooks. The police will drive them to their houses when the dinner shift is over. It only costs 2 six packs of Corona and some chairs, which oddly, the police station is short of!

    We said our goodbyes to Stina from Denmark, Chris from the US who lives in Cuenca but is going to the US to visit his mother, and an older German woman who wants to stay, but needs to get back to her 92 year old mother. They leave this morning for Cuenca and will try to get to Quito tomorrow during the short non-curfew hours.

    The US embassy sent all US citizens in Ecuador an email saying they are coordinating evacuation flights tomorrow and Friday. Flights are from Quito to Miami and should cost the average price before the virus hit. They are making people sign promissory notes to pay the US government back. No credit cards or cash accepted!  This is different than the German flights which seem to be costing a lot more and payments must be made up front. However, the US is not coordinating land travel to the airport in Quito. Roadblocks could still be a problem, even if you have a pass. In rural areas, locals are putting boulders, logs, etc. in the roads to block traffic, despite local police and military policies. Peter said this is a normal type of reaction in Ecuador.  Again, we are staying put and are happy to be here, even if it’s for a couple months.

    Ecuador has a slightly higher population than Illinois. I’m comparing Ecuador’s cases and deaths with them now.  The confirmed cases is about the same, but the death rate is much higher here, for now. The US is still not taking drastic measures, and instead seems to be taking baby steps.  I think it’s going to get pretty bad there, but I hope I’m wrong. If you want to know what it will be like in the US 2 weeks from now, look at what’s happening in Italy and Spain now. A friend of ours just flew into Chicago from Ethiopia and Somaliland and passed right through customs and immigration - no questions asked, no temperature readings, nothing.  This is a problem.

    It’s day 2 of yoga for me, and it feels great. Alas, we’re not studying Spanish as everyone here except the staff are speaking English. The staff are too busy to converse with, except maybe the bartender but we’re trying not to spend too much time there.
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  • Day66

    63. Border Crossing to Peru

    October 27, 2019 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 77 °F

    We said goodbye to Cuenca and headed for the border to Peru, where we passed through quickly and without ado. Kudos to Craig for having all of his paperwork in good order.

    Our first real destination point is Lima, which is 712 miles from the border, so we have some long driving days ahead of us. Heading through south Ecuador to the border (again through the Andes) was mountainous and beautiful, but once in Peru, we hit a long stretch of straight road through sandy desert like terrain, that was alternately barren, or filled with poverty-stricken communities.

    The word community may be misleading. There were no stores or shops, no parks or playgrounds, no cars in driveways (no driveways), just miles of falling down shacks often without doors or windows, and some without 4 walls. I've never seen anything like it.
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  • Day22

    Izhcayluma (Vilcabamba)

    May 23, 2019 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    Diese Woche ging ich morgens jeweils in die Ludothek und nachmittags in die Stadt, einen Kaffee trinken, mehr lag beim Regen nicht drin. Leider hatte es auch morgens kaum Kinder in der Ludothek, inzwischen weiss ich auch den Grund dafür. Die Krankenschwestern streiken, daher werden nur Notfälle aufgenommen. Eigentlich wäre mein letzter Tag am Mittwoch gewesen, leider musste ich jedoch mit einer Lebensmittelvergiftung zu Hause bleiben und viel, viel schlafen.

    Zum Glück war ich gestern wieder genügend fit, um meine Reise anzutreten und mich von meiner Familie zu verabschieden. Weiter ging es nach Vilcabamba, mit einigen Mitschülerinnen. Heute ist ein Feiertag, daher haben sie keine Schule. Wir sind in einem wunderbaren Hostel, viele Hängematten vor der Türe und eine tolle Umgebung :)
    Heute machten wir zwei Schweizerinnen eine Wanderung, für die Amerikanerinnen wäre die zu gross gewesen, doch wir genossen die tolle Aussicht. Dass ich noch einige zusätzliche Pausen brauchte, da ich erst jetzt wieder langsam fit bin, stellte sicher, dass wir die Aussicht auch genügend genossen. Unterwegs begegneten wir zahlreichen Schmetterlingen, Hunden, Pferde und ein Esel überraschte uns von hinten ;) Jetzt sind wir am unsere Ferien geniessen in den Hängematten neben dem üppigen Garten :)

    Noch zwei lustige Spanisch-versprecher:
    1) cucaracha statt cuchara (Kakerlake statt Löffel)
    2) lechuza statt lechuga (Eule statt Salat)
    Aber sonst läuft es mit Spanisch ;)
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  • Day17

    Via Antigua

    January 17, 2018 in Ecuador ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Ein GS-Offroad-Training wäre sicherlich hilfreich gewesen, aber es geht auch so. Wenn man das mäßig abenteuerliche Schreibtischleben eintauscht gegen eine ausdehnte Motorradreise durch Südamerika, dann muss vieles neu erlernt werden. Unter anderem das Motorradfahren selbst. Tatsächlich gewöhne ich mich daran, das Wetter schlichtweg als Faktor hinzunehmen und mich damit eher sachlich (wieviele Schichten?) als emotional auseinanderzusetzen - schließlich wird das Roadbook streng befolgt. Und ebenfalls muss ich mich daran gewöhnen und lernen, das Bike auf unbefestigten Strecken zu bewegen. Denn 40km vor unserem heutigen Tagesziel "Loja" verlassen wir die Panamericana und biegen in die Via Antigua ein. Mir wird erst durch die Übersetzungs-App klar, dass dies im besten Fall "alter Weg" bedeutet, im schlechteren Fall mit "ehemaliger Weg" übersetzt werden kann. Was wir vorfinden, erscheint mir zunächst in Richtung "ehemaliger Weg" zu tendieren, denn die teils sandige, teils ausgewaschene Fahrbahn ist doch arg ramponiert. Aber: auch entlang dieser Piste finden sich Hütten und Menschen. Und irgendwie wundert es dann auch nicht, dass uns selbst hier ein Bus entgegen kommt. Und wenn hier ein Bus fahren kann, dann sollte so etwas doch auch mit dem Motorrad möglich sein.

    Gelegentliche Pfützendurchfahrten bei gleichzeitig staubigem Untergrund sind ideal, um schichtweise eine Schmutzkruste aufzubauen. Mir scheint es sinnlos, größere Reinigungsarbeiten an Motorrad oder Ausrüstung vorzunehmen. Will jedoch, unser stets gut gelaunter thailändischer Pilot, versucht alles wieder sauber zu bekommen und erhält dafür das Prädikat "boutique rider".

    Unser Zielort Loja entpuppt sich als ungewöhnlich langweilig, selbst dem Lonely Planet fällt zu Loja kaum etwas ein außer "Kolonialstil", und der ist doch schon arg verblasst. Wir suchen das "El Tamal Lojano" auf, ein einfaches und günstiges Restaurant mit "all the Loja region's foodie classics", und es erweist sich als von Einheimischen gut frequentiert. Das Bild zeigt eine Art Maiskuchen gefüllt mit Frischkäse, tamales lojanos. Nach den vielen Fleischtagen (langjährige Beobachtung: die meisten Motorradfahrer ernähren sich fast ausschließlich von Steaks) sehe ich darin ein ernährungstechnisch angenehmes Gegengewicht.

    Etwas zusammenhanglos, aber weil ich noch nicht müde bin, zum Schluß noch eine Musikempfehlung: Gotan Project, Lunatico, daraus den Titel Arrabal. Moderne südamerikanische Musik, man muss sich etwas hineinhören. Ist ebenfalls eine Empfehlung aus dem lonely planet, gibt es auf Spotify und habe ich tatsächlich schon in zwei Kneipen gehört bzw. wiedererkannt. Was nicht so einfach ist, denn gerade in den Großstädten und Kneipenvierteln wird hier in Südamerika ordentlich und temperamentvoll beschallt. Und da geht dann schon einiges durcheinander.
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  • Day208

    Little Loja

    February 22, 2018 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Our first stop in Ecuador was a small city in the south of the country called Loja, about eight and a half hours from Piura in Peru. Founded in 1548, the town is proud of being the oldest city in Ecuador. The climate, at 2060 metres above sea level, is cooler than the hot desert of northern Perú and with much greener vegetation. The border crossing at La Tina and Macara was straightforward and relaxed. Immigration officers did not seem to be too concerned about national or bio-security. Well, they let through two Australian itinerants and about eight other people with little hassle, only rummaging haphazardly through a couple of bags.

    Once we crossed the border, this was when the real fun began. The bus went round and round the mountains, switchback after switchback. Within thirty minutes of the rollercoaster ride, we both started to suffer from motion sickness. Neither of us had ever experienced motion sickness before but then this bus ride was like nothing that we had experienced either. Ricky was almost concussed as the bus threw him from side to side and propelled him out the toilet door, hitting his head on the overhead compartment. This did nothing for the motion sickness. For four hours, we sat trying not to vomit and hoping for this journey from hell to end. Finally we arrived in Loja around 8:30pm and took a taxi to our hotel situated in the downtown area. Even at the hotel, we felt as if we had been taken out the washing machine after the turbo spin-cycle. A cup of tea and a lie down was in order, although the very, small double-bed could hardly fit two six-foot-plus guys.

    After a night's rest and recovering from the motion sickness, we set out to explore the downtown area. Much of the city seemed to be under construction with road works but at least the traffic didn't seem to be stuck in a game of Carmageddon trying to mow down pedestrians. The downtown area is filled with a number of plazas and colonial style buildings: Central Park, Cathedral of Loja, San Francisco Church and Park, San Sebastian Church and Simón Bolivar Park. The downtown area of the city is only small so it was easily traversed within a few hours.

    We only intended to stop in Loja for a short period to break up the journey to the north of Ecuador and after two nights it was time to move on. As we checked out of the hotel, there seemed to be some confusion about the hotel bill. According to our reading of the booking information, the total amount should have been less than the requested amount. We have become accustomed to people trying to pull the wool over our eyes to take advantage of the ignorant tourist. We questioned the amount and after a few exchanges we were still no clearer on the difference. We left paying what we thought was the correct amount and which matched the advertised rates behind the check-in counter. It wasn't until later that we re-read our booking confirmation that we saw in small fine print that the taxes were excluded from the total costs. Once we became aware of our error, we contacted the hotel to apologise for the misunderstanding and asked how we could rectify the situation. However, their response made no sense to us, even after using Google Translate. So we are no closer to resolving the situation. The booking was in Jason’s name so we hope he isn't hauled off to an Ecuadorian prison to become the top dog's bitch.

    Next stop: Cuenca.
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  • Day25

    Vilcabamba

    February 3, 2017 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Mal schauen ob ihr jetzt auch wieder erratet, wer geschrieben hat. Heute morgen ging es mit dem Bus über Loja nach Vilcabamba. Diesmal eine etwas ruppelige Fahrt auf Grund der Strassenverhältnisse und schlecht gefederter Busse. Gegen 15 Uhr erreichten wir Vilcabamba, ein kleines Dörfchen, welches offenbar völlig von weißen, vornehmlich älteren (wohl 68ern) Hippies überlaufen ist. Aber auch die junge Alternativen-Szene scheint sich hier nieder zu lassen. Hier gibt es eine nette zentrale Plaza, die von kleinen Cafés und Restaurants umgeben ist - hier suchten wir uns eines aus und speisten erst einmal zu Mittag. Unser Yoga-Hostel Izcayluma liegt etwa 2.5km außerhalb des Städtchens, daher nahmen wir uns wegen der schweren Rucksäcke ein Taxi. Da dieses kleine Paradies hier sehr beliebt ist, waren alle 2-Mann-Unterkünfte belegt und wir sind in einem Dorm untergebracht, mit weiteren 4 Leuten. Mal sehen, wie die Nacht wird ;) Ein kleiner Geländeerkundungsgang, ein Schachspiel und ein Absackerbierchen beendeten unseren Tag.Read more

  • Day26

    Izhcayluma Loop

    February 4, 2017 in Ecuador ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Die erste Nacht im Dorm - voller Angst blickten wir ihr entgegen: Wie würden wir schlafen? Wie sind die anderen Menschen? Werden wir bei jeder Kleinigkeit wach? Die Sorgen erwiesen sich als völlig umsonst, denn wir schliefen gut! Trotzdem ging es für Lisa um 6.30 raus, denn die Free-Yoga-Class für Gäste startet um 7 Uhr. Während David noch selig in seinem Bettchen schlummerte, startete Lisa mit einem "Fühlt bedingungslose Liebe für euch selbst"-Mantra und ein paar entspannten Übungen in den Tag. Allein der Ausblick vom Yoga-Shala hat sich gelohnt! Danach gab es ein stärkendes Frühstück und sehr viele gut organisierte Informationen der deutschen Besitzer für unseren bevorstehenden Grenzübertritt!
    Wir wollten heute noch etwas wandern und entschieden uns für einen 5 Stunden dauernden Weg, der über einen schmalen Grat auf einen kleinen Gipfel (2100m) und durch ein Flussbett wieder zurück zum Hostel führen sollte. Eine wirklich schöne Strecke! Tolle Ausblicke, viele Tiere und ein spannender Weg! Vor allem Davids Insektenherz machte Luftsprünge und er suchte verfaulende Baumstämme nach Tausendfüßlern und Käfern ab, während Lisa ihre Füße im Fluss kühlte.
    Wieder an der Straße angekommen, machten wir noch einen Spaziergang nach Vilcabamba, um in einem schönen kleinen Restaurant Falafel zu essen und guten! Kaffee zu trinken. Wieder zurück im Hostel wartete eine heiße, und vor allem heiß bleibende Dusche auf uns. Jetzt gibt es noch ein Abendessen, ein verdientes Feierabendbier und vielleicht noch eine Tischtennispartie, bevor gepackt wird. Morgen wird lang! Um 6.30 Uhr nehmen wir den Bus in Richtung Peru! Hoffentlich sind wir morgen abend dann schon dort :)
    Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

Provincia de Loja

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